For the past three weeks, I have been writing about a project that I was creating that I had been thinking about for over two years. I have hoped that it didn't get boring or tedious for you all to read, as my mind has been focused on little else and (for me, anyway) it was a long process to see it come to fruition.
What I saw in my mind over the last few years probably changed hundreds of times. From one day to the next, not only the style and graphics on the project changed, but also the logistics of how I would make it 'work' so that other people would be able to "easily" recreate it. Not only was that a consideration, but also I had to think of how I would be able to efficiently and cost-effectively produce kits that I would be able to sell. Since the project combined both my woodworking skills as well as my painting skills, I know that every step of the process needed to be simple and straight forward. After all – most of my painting audience does not do woodworking and many of my woodworking audience don't paint much. I needed to be sure that all bases were covered.
Another consideration is that I wanted the the kits to be completed using as few tools as possible. As with most of my projects, I relied on the scroll saw, sander and drill press to do just about everything. While I am sure that things could have been done on the lathe and table saw as well, I always try to keep to the three above mentioned tools, as many scroll sawyers don't have a full shop. Therein was the challenge.
Translating what I envisioned into reality using these criteria was not always easy for me. There were many sleepless nights and many times throughout the process I wound up cutting, throwing the piece in the garbage, and trying again. I didn't see these 'hiccups' as failures, but as learning experiences and I feel that I have learned a great deal while creating this project. Not only will it make things easier for subsequent projects, but it will also allow me to move even farther along in the learning process. It is all good.
People often ask why I like to share my 'designing secrets' and processes here on my blog every day. "Aren't you afraid that someone else will steal your ideas?", they ask, and I honestly don't feel threatened or intimidated by that thought.
I know how much thinking goes into my work. I know how much experience it has taken for me to get to this point. I guess that I figure that if anyone were going to copy or steal my ideas, they could have done so on any number of my projects. I am not saying that this hasn't happened in the past. I certainly have seen 'versions' of what I have created done very similarly by others. Whether they copied directly or indirectly or by chance came up with the same thing, it doesn't really matter to me.
I do know that those who copy things are generally not creative on their own and rather lazy. While one may take a concept and replicate it, it usually is a 'watered-down' version of the original and pales in comparison. I am not just saying that about my own work, but I know so many wonderful talented designers from sculptors, to wood turners to painters and other scroll saw artists. I have seen violations of copyrights in all of these areas, and I know how hard they are to enforce. One thing I know for certain is that the 'copies' are usually bland and cheap-looking. And while some of these copycats may be able to sell a few patterns here and there, it isn't long before the customers realize the difference in quality and design and migrate back to the true 'originals'.
Besides – those who copy may have a burst of success in their practices, but will generally run out of ideas before too long. To me, it isn't worth chasing. I have enough ideas in my head so I can just move on to something else. There is always something new waiting to be created in my mind. I consider that my 'job security'.
But I got off on a tangent . . .
I worked on all the details on my carousel yesterday and I can really call it "finished." It feels good to say so, and I will spend the next few days writing the pattern and waiting for the kit supplies to arrive. I already have many kits sold. So many in fact that I may have to order more supplies. I am glad that I am several months ahead of the season, as I don't like delaying any type of thing that people order from me. But sometimes it is what it is and I have no choice. (If you want to pre-order a kit, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you on the list.)
In any case, I have lots of photos to share. I want to show all the final details of the carousel, as I am rather proud of it. Seeing it all together is very exciting for me.
I'll start from the bottom up. The carousel floor has a faux marbled effect. The bones are placed in a spider web shape to follow the shape of the floor. This is all on a Lazy Susan ball bearing movement so it spins:
There are six skeletal "characters" on the carousel. Each of them stands on a spider web, two tiered 'base':
I used crystal rhinestones throughout the project. Each of the characters have red crystal eyes. This makes them look somewhat 'creepy':
I also used some iridescent paint (it doesn't always photograph well) and used a black crystal to make a spider on each of the web bases:
As with most carousels, I created two benches. The first being a creepy moon, encrusted with peridot colored crystal rhinestones:
And the second, a skeletal swan. So many carousels have swan benches. I thought it would be appropriate. Both of the benches have a scrolled star in the back piece, which is embellished with some easy stroke work and some crystal rhinestones:
I used Rare Earth magnets to easily attach and detach the animals and benches:
The magnets are hidden under the layers of the spider web stands and the bases of the benches:
The eight carousel pieces can be assembled and disassembled in seconds:
The central pillar consists of four slotted pieces that slide together easily. The pillar is decorated with windows and a door and embellished with rhinstones. Because of its size, it is incredibly stable. I have small 'hooks' on the top in which to attach the roof of the carousel. The roof slots in easily and with a slight turn, locks into place:
The tower sets right into the center of the base:
Next comes the roof – painted with eerie clouds and crystal rhinestone stars:
There is a support screwed into the center top of the roof which will hold the canopy, which also has rhinestone accents for the eyes of the eight characters as well as brass nailhead embellishments:
The canopy attaches with velcro, as it is made of Roc-Lon fabric. To hold it onto the support, I created a witch finale, again embellished with orange crystal rhinestones:
The entire piece is 16" in diameter and about 18" tall. It looks small when put altogether:
It got dark before I was ready to take the final photos. The assembled piece is too large for my light box so I need to make some type of backdrop to photograph it properly. Also the canopy tends to shadow the central pillar when taking pictures. That is why I preferred to show you each piece individually.
I will try to post the links to the kits on the site today or tomorrow. The first round of kits won't ship for about two weeks though, as I am awaiting some of the supplies. Besides the 'full kit' I am also going to offer an ornament set using just the skeletal characters. They would look cute on a mantle or wreath or Halloween tree I think.
I know this is a LONG blog – but I wanted to show everything in one post. I suppose there is lots to see.
I want to thank everyone again who has been so kind with your comments and encouragement. I have been nervous about putting so much of my time into one piece, as anything like this is a risk. But without risks, we wouldn't advance, would we? I am pleased that so many of you really seem to like this. I really appreciate your support.
I need to take my car to the other side of the province to drop it off to get the new top put on today. I hope it goes well. When I return, I will begin writing my pattern in earnest.
It is a beautiful and sunny day here. A good day for a drive. I hope you all have a wonderful day as well. Happy Wednesday!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"